Indian organisers faced more embarrassment today as a boxer’s bed collapsed when he sat on it after moving into his accommodation at the Commonwealth Games athletes’ village.
Organisers insisted that progress was being made in getting the games in New Delhi ready for next week’s start.
Concerns emerged last week after a pedestrian bridge leading to the main stadium collapsed, team officials reported the athletes’ village was “unsafe and unfit for human habitation,” and two tourists were shot and wounded outside one of New Delhi’s top attractions.
The games were meant to be a coming-out party for India to cement its reputation as a growing regional power. Instead, the nation’s image has been battered by negative publicity about its frantic last-minute efforts to get ready for an event it knew it was hosting seven years ago.
Talk emerged over the past week of postponing or cancelling the games. But those discussions dissipated after the government poured enormous resources into urgently addressing the problems before the opening ceremonies on October 3.
Akhil Kumar, who won gold for India in the 120-pound (54-kilogram) division at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia, said he was disappointed with his accommodation.
“When I sat down on my bed to take a rest, it collapsed,” Mr Kumar was quoted as saying by the Times of India newspaper.
Indian officials said they were doing their best to get things ready. “All efforts are being made to hold a successful games,” said Sheila Dikshit, an official overseeing the clean up of the games village.
The village opened on Thursday, after being described on Tuesday as filthy after excrement was found in some rooms.
Commonwealth Games Federation President Mike Fennell – on an emergency trip to address the problems – told reporters that significant work had been done in recent days.
“There’s still a lot of work to be done, to do the final touches, and there’s more work in the village. It’s not over yet,” he said.
Among the ongoing concerns were water remaining in the basement of the athletes’ village, transportation and technology difficulties, and issues with security and fire safety, he said.
The multi-sport games, held every four years, bring together competitors from across the former British empire.
In an effort to dispel worries about New Delhi’s readiness to host nearly 7,000 athletes and officials from 71 countries and territories, organisers took ambassadors and journalists on a tour of the games village, where workers were cleaning the area and painters provided last-minute touch-ups.
Despite the problems, athletes and team officials continued to arrive in the city over the weekend, with the delegation from Trinidad and Tobago, and athletes from the Isle of Man and Guyana joining a group of English athletes who had arrived the day before.
Several teams that had delayed their trips – including Scotland and New Zealand - have confirmed their athletes will be attending.
However, two more Australian athletes withdrew from the games, citing security and health concerns.
Cyclist Travis Meyer and table tennis player Stephanie Sang became the second and third Australians to pull out of the event, following discus world champion Dani Samuels’ withdrawal last week.
Australian Commonwealth Games chief Perry Crosswhite said he was disappointed in the withdrawals, but respected the athletes’ decisions.